Sunday, March 4, 2012

Visual Studio 2011 Beta Search

I have been looking at the new features in Visual Studio 2011 and one area they have made a lot of improvements in is search. As I showed in my post on the Solution Explorer  there is now a search box that allows you to quickly find files in the solution explorer, but there are also other areas where search has been improved.

One of these is the quick launch box which you will find at the right end of the menu bar.


If you type a word in the box and hit enter you will get a list of all the menus and options that contain that keyword. Clicking on one of the menu items will directly execute that command, and click on a Options item will take you to that section of the options dialog.


With the large number of menu and settings options in Visual Studio the quick launch can make it much easier to find commands and options, especially ones you don’t use often.

Another area where some small improvements have been made is in the quick find function. The quick find box is a little cleaner and works a bit differently then it did in VS 2010.


The search direction options are now on a drop down menu next to the search box which defaults to Find Next. This makes it fairly intuitive to they way we normally search.


The scope selection icon has also been removed from the search box. You can access the scope selection by clicking the arrow in the upper left corner of the search box to expand it  into a search/replace box. You will now see the scope select option. You will also notice that the replace option is shown below the find option unlike in 2010 where they were side by side. I feel this is a more logical layout and should also reduce the change of the search box hiding a piece of code.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Visual Studio 2011 IDE Improvements

Yesterday I talked about some of the enhancements to the Solution Explorer in the Visual Studio 2011 beta. The one thing I didn’t show was the new file preview function. On the Solution Explorer icon bar there is a new toggle button called Preview Selected Item.


When this button is toggled on and you click on any of the files in Solution Explorer a preview of the file will be displayed in a tab anchored to the right side of the tab bar. If you click another file this tab will be replaced with the preview of that file. This makes it really easy to browse through files.


At this point the file is in preview mode. You can click on the icon next to the file name in the tab to make the file editable or just starting editing the file. Once it’s out of preview mode the file joins the tabs to the left and works like any other file.

Another new feature is the ability to pin files to the left side of the tab bar.


When you click the pin icon on a tab it will always stay on the left side no matter how many more files you open.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Visual Studio 2011 Solution Explorer


Yesterday Microsoft released a new beta of Visual Studio 2011. I’ve been playing around with it a bit to check out some of the new features.

The first and most noticeable change is the new appears of the UI. Microsoft has gone with a simpler “Metro-style” look for the interface.  Here you can see a comparison of part of the UI from Visual Studio 2011 on the left and Visual Studio 2010 on the right.

SolExplorer1         image

The new look doesn’t bother me, but I don’t think it really adds anything.

Since we are looking at the solution explorer let’s talk about one of the nice new features that has been added to VS 2011. In Visual Studio 2010 Productivity Power Tools add-on there was a feature call the Solution Navigator that combined functionality from the Solution Explorer, Class view, Object Browser and other components into a single tool. In VS 2011 this functionality has been added to the Solution Explorer right out of the box, no need for an add-on. Let’s look at some of the features this brought to the Solution Explorer.

The first new feature is the search box directly below the icon bar. Start typing into this box and the list of files will be filtered to only show file names with that word in it. Here you can see where I typed “Logo” in to the search box and the resulting file list:


The new Solution Explorer also merges in the capabilities of the Class Explorer so you can continue drilling down from the file level to see the Classes that are in the file, then the properties and methods that are in that class.


Finally you can right click on a property or method to see what code is calling the method, what code the methods calls, etc.


The Solution Navigator is a great tool so it was nice to see it made a first class part of Visual Studio.